I roast a chicken for my family about once a week, so it’s odd I haven’t posted a recipe yet. A lot of chicken recipes have come out of my kitchen, from jamming butter under the skin to basting and flipping every fifteen minutes. But who wants to spend all of that time and effort when you can get a yummy bird with just a few minutes of prep? That’s the beauty of roasting a chicken. It’s a simple, delicious meal with the bonus of leftovers.
It took me so long to post a roast chicken recipe because I was busy conducting my own little kitchen test. I found the top easy roast chicken recipes and tried each recipe several times. This has been going on for a few months now (much to the delight of my husband). Out of the ten recipes I tried, I chose my top five, listed below. These are all fantastic recipes, so you really can’t miss by choosing one to make your next family dinner.
I arranged this list in no particular order because they all are my favorite recipe for one reason or another. Read my notes about each recipe. At the bottom, you will find my combination of all of the recipes to get the most amazing chicken dinner ever, plus tips on roasting the perfect bird.
Thomas’ recipe stands apart. He rinses the chicken, pats it very dry, sprinkles the cavity with salt and pepper and trusses the bird. Next, he generously salts the outside of the bird and sprinkles with pepper. That’s it. No butter. No olive oil. No basting. The chicken cooks the entire time at 450 F/230 C. He beautifully describes how to carve and eat the chicken when it’s done.
I love this recipe for its simplicity, and it’s the recipe I use when I want to roast a chicken without vegetables. The chicken comes out juicy inside, with perfect skin. I have three warnings. Use a thermometer, truss the bird completely and pay attention to the size of your bird. I’ve had this recipe turn out both under-cooked and overcooked, so it’s not foolproof. Even so, I use this recipe often because it is the easiest roast chicken recipe you will find.
Martha first rinses her chicken, pats it dry, and then sprinkles it with salt and pepper. She stuffs the chicken with a lemon, smashed garlic cloves and thyme, and then spreads it with butter. The chicken cooks on top of onion slices at 425 F/ 220 C until done.
This is a great recipe, though slightly fussy. The process is described well including how to make a delicious pan sauce using the drippings. When I make it, I like to add more vegetables so it’s a complete meal in one pan. Fish out the smashed garlic cloves when the chicken is cooked and serve them with the bird.
Ina Garten’s roasted chicken recipe is at the top of most Google searches for roast chicken. She stuffs the chicken with thyme, lemon and garlic, brushes it with butter and sprinkles it with salt and pepper. It roasts on top of a mixture of onion, carrots and fennel. The chicken is roasted at 425 F/ 220 C for 1 ½ hours.
I tried this recipe several times and the chicken comes out perfect. Sometimes I use olive oil instead of the butter. If your chicken is the slightest bit cold, the butter hardens as you are trying to smear it around and it’s messy. The bird cooks up tender and juicy with a crispy skin (though not the crispiest of the five). The veggies cooked underneath are amazing. I use the vegetables I have available and they all come out delicious. Celery, cabbage, parsnips and other vegetables all work in this recipe.
What I like about Jamie’s recipe is how easy it is, plus it’s a complete meal. He doesn’t truss the chicken or even peel the vegetables. I like that he uses olive oil instead of butter, because it’s easier. You don’t end up with butter all over the place, and the taste is still just as good.
Jamie doesn’t describe how to make a pan gravy from the drippings. He also doesn’t serve the vegetables that are roasted with the chicken. That’s the best part!
Ree takes softened butter and mixes it with lemon zest, rosemary, salt and pepper. She smears the chicken with the butter mixture and stuffs it with lemon halves and rosemary sprigs. The chicken is roasted at 425 F/ 220 C until done.
This almost doesn’t qualify as easy, due to the whole butter schmear process, but it’s also not hard…and it’s delicious! The recipe is a fun read, too. When I make it, I truss the legs. That’s my only change. For some reason, I feel incomplete if the legs aren’t perfectly trussed, but that’s my own issue.
Tips for cooking a perfect, easy roast chicken:
- Buy an organic, free-range chicken if you can, or at the very least, look for chicken raised without hormones.
- For super crispy skin, salt the chicken and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight
- Let your bird come to room temperature (about 30 minutes) before roasting.
- You really don’t need to wash your chicken. Just cook it.
- Always, always pat the bird dry before cooking.
- Truss the legs if you can. This keeps them from drying out and just looks pretty.
- Let your chicken rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving so the juices don’t escape.
- Save your chicken bones! They make incredible chicken stock that you can use to make a soup.
- Invest in an oven thermometer. I love this digital in-oven thermometer from Polder. It will save you a lot of stress wondering if your chicken is done.
- Instead of cutting through the leg to see if your chicken is done; tilt the pan to pour the juices out of the cavity. If you see any bright red juices, stick it back in the oven for another ten minutes and check again.
Soups to make with your chicken broth:
Perfect Roast Chicken with vegetables and lemon pan sauce
- 1 5-6 pound whole chicken
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the vegetables
- sea salt
- 1 small bunch fresh thyme, rosemary, sage or a mixture
- 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut in half crosswise
- 2 stalks celery, cut in half crosswise
- 1 bulb fennel, cabbage or other root vegetable (quartered)
- 10 whole cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ cup water
- drippings from roasted chicken
- ½ cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- juice from one lemon
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- fresh tarragon, thyme or rosemary, finely chopped (optional)
Heat oven to 425 F/ 220 C with the rack in the middle of the oven.
Allow the chicken to come to room temperature, about 1 hour. I don’t wash my chicken. You can, but it really serves no purpose and gets germs all over your sink. Remove the giblets and neck from the inside (save these for stock). Using paper towels, dry the chicken really well inside and out. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Roll the lemon on a counter top, pressing with your hand. Then prick with a knife. Place the lemon inside the chicken along with the fresh herbs.
Truss the chicken. Grab some butcher’s twine and tie the legs together, looping the sting around the tail bone. You can stop there or do a complete truss.
Rub 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the chicken. Sprinkle well with salt and fresh pepper. Set aside.
Arrange your onion, carrots, celery, fennel and garlic cloves in the bottom of the roasting pan. Toss with a glug of olive oil and salt and pepper. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables. Insert the thermometer between the thigh and breast. Place in the oven. Now leave it alone. Don’t baste it, turn it or repeatedly open the oven door.
Cook the chicken for an hour, to an hour and a half, until the internal temperature hits 165 F / 74 C. Remove from the oven and move the chicken to a carving board. Allow the chicken to rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes before carving. Remove the vegetables from the pan and arrange on a serving platter.
Add ½ cup of water to the warm roasting pan and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a spatula. Pour the pan juices into a small measuring cup. Let it settle, then spoon the fat off the top and discard. Add the pan juices, chicken stock and white wine to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce by half.
Add lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add some herbs if you like (tarragon or rosemary work well). Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.
Do you have a favorite roast chicken recipe? Share it below!